Protests after two Christians are shot dead outside church in Quetta, Pakistan

A Christian protest is under way in Quetta after the terrorist killing of two Christians yesterday near a church by four unidentified gunmen in the city in Pakistan's Balochistan province.

Local police said that a group of Christians had come out of the church when the four gunmen appeared on two motorcycles from a nearby lane and opened fire on them.

'Two people were killed on the spot while six others were injured and rushed to a hospital,' an official said.

The killings have been claimed by Islamic State.

The victims have been identified as Azhar Masih and Rohail Masih, who were residents of Essa Nagri which houses a large proportion of the Christian community.

Provincial police chief Moazzam Jah Ansari said that it appeared that the purpose of the attack was to spread panic and fear in the province. 'These terrorists are targeting security forces and now minorities to spread fear and panic because of the ongoing operation against them in the province,' he said.

The Christian community was protesting against the provincial government and calling for the immediate arrest of the attackers as well as protection for Christians, according to the Times of India.

Pakistan has long been battling armed groups, including the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP). Attacks often target Pakistan's minorities, including Shia Muslims as well as Christians, Hindus and members of the Ahmadiyya sect.

Earlier this month, four members of a Christian family travelling in a rickshaw were killed in a shooting incident on Quetta's Shah Zaman road. The Christian family came from the Punjab Province and had come to Quetta to visit relatives.

In December last year, nine people were killed and 30 injured in a suicide attack on the Bethel Memorial Methodist Church where some 400 worshippers had gathered on Quetta's Zarghoon Road.